A ranty, funny, dead-serious intersectional feminist blog.

Teen Girl Missing, But it’s Not News

A 19-year-old girl is missing  from Charlottesville, VA after she had planned to meet a man for a date, her family says. Police questioned the man and then lost track of him, and they’ve made no progress after three weeks, although they say they’re working steadily. Media–even local media–has barely touched the story.

Every story on Google related to Sage Smith's disappearance.

Every story on Google related to Sage Smith’s disappearance.

Sage Smith

Sage Smith

Normally, a missing teenager–especially a girl–is big news. So why does no one want to write about this particular missing child? In his story Where is Sage Smith? on Huffington Post, Daryl C. Hannah speculates that the issue may be that this young woman was born male. The person living now as Sage Smith was born Dashad Smith. Sage is a trans woman. So ask yourself: When was the last time you saw a story about any transgender person in mainstream media?

To make things worse, Smith’s family doesn’t believe the police are doing enough to find her.

From The Daily Progress:

Kenneth Jackson, of Rice, asked to address the City Council at Monday’s meeting, saying he was once proud of Charlottesville, his hometown.

“But I can’t brag on Charlottesville when my little 19-year-old cousin is missing,” Jackson said, adding that the FBI and state police should be called in to help with the search.

I’m not sure what I hope to achieve by writing about this. I guess I just felt that someone ought to. I don’t know what happened to Sage. I don’t know whether  Erik T. McFadden–the man she’d planned to meet–did something to her that night, or if–as he told police–she never arrived for their date. (Fun fact: According to reports, McFadden has since fled VA.) I certainly want to point out the injustice of the fact that I believe, had this young woman been straight and white, her photo would be plastered all over your television and computer screens. At the very least, it would be in her town and state, and in the states nearby.

Let’s talk for a moment about what it means that it’s not…what it means that newspapers and television stations in the city Sage lives in seem to have no interest in talking about her, getting her photo out to the public, maybe helping the police by getting citizens to call in tips. If you buy the premise in italics above, I think it can only mean one thing: they see her as less than human. Because when a young human girl goes missing, it’s news.

Erik T. McFadden

Erik T. McFadden (click to enlarge)

Here’s a photo of McFadden (and possibly part of his vehicle) just in case he ends up being connected in any way to Sage’s disappearance. I half hope he is, since he’s the only lead they’ve got, but if so, I don’t expect a happy ending.

Honestly, I don’t know what to hope for, except that wherever she is, she’s not in pain. And I hope like hell she makes it home to her family somehow.


PS: There’s a Facebook page dedicated to finding Sage–like it for updates. You can also donate to a fund for the families effort’s to find Sage.

12 responses

  1. marge

    I’ve seen this story reported in the news, in papers and all over the internet. There are many cases which don’t get the publicity this story has-some get none, so I don’t understand why so many say it’s not getting the attention. I think that a lot of these cases don’t get the publicity, not because of race, gender, or sexual orientation, but because of who they aren’t–whether straight, gay, black, white, male or female. I think the ones that get the most publicity are because of who they are & who they or their families know and the circumstances surrounding the situation. Just imagine if EVERY case were given the amount of time that EVERY missing person’s family thought it should….IMPOSSIBLE TO DO–with all the disappearances in this country. Stories of this disappearance are all over the internet, while some are just forgotten. It’s sad. I hope Dashad is found safe and knows that stories like the one above are not accurate–that there ARE people who actually care & are passing the story/picture along.

    December 13, 2012 at 11:56 pm

    • I’m sorry you think my article is inaccurate. My Google search turned up almost nothing about this story, and I have to assume that Daryl C. Hannah (Huffington Post article referenced above) had the same problem. I’m glad you’ve seen it and I hope others have, too. And yes, it’s impossible to give a missing persons case the attention the family thinks it deserves, and I’m sure many, many stories go untold. That was sort of my point: I shared this story because I thought it was not getting attention and because I cared.

      December 14, 2012 at 12:06 am

  2. Thanks for also addressing the race aspect of this. Trans women of colour are one of the most vulnerable populations, and part of it is because the assholes who target them know that the crimes they commit are not taken seriously.

    December 12, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    • Ugh. It’s just heartbreaking to think of this happening all over and no one giving a damn.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:49 pm

  3. sj

    This is crazy. A missing person no matter their gender, orientation, race, WHATEVER deserves more than to be just swept under the proverbial rug.

    I really hope she’s found and that she’s safe.

    December 12, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    • Me too.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:48 pm

  4. Very sad. A missing young person should be news no matter what their colour or gender or sexual orientation or if they’re transgendered. Everyone is a human being and this young woman needs people to take her disappearance seriously. I hope she is found safe and can go home to her family.

    December 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm

  5. Reblogged this on Note To Self.

    December 12, 2012 at 4:33 pm

  6. Excellent – yet sad – post. As JackieP noted this does happen much more than most realize. I know locally there have been cases where you might hear just one small story then nothing at all.

    December 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    • Really sad. The whole thing.

      December 13, 2012 at 11:46 pm

  7. JackieP

    This happens way to often, all over. If they are not “normal” they don’t get the press or the help they need. It’s still a sad sad world that we live in. A human being cannot receive the help they need because they are different. They are still a human being.

    December 12, 2012 at 4:03 am

    • It is sad, and wrong, and we have to shine a light on it whenever we see it. Thanks, Jackie.

      December 12, 2012 at 4:06 am

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